Gift Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

Date: December 6, 2016      Publication: Bottom Line's Household Magic      Source:  Joan Wilen & Lydia Wilen      Print:

We hate to be negative this time of year, but gift-giving can be a challenge. What can you get for your picky loved ones without going broke? Here are a few suggestions…

  • Turn loose change into gift cards. If you have a big jar of coins, seek out a Coinstar machine, usually located at supermarkets and discount department stores. If you dump your coins in for cash, you are charged a fee. But if you exchange your change for gift cards, there’s no fee and the choice is extensive, including gift cards for popular retail clothing stores, movie theaters and restaurants. Gift-card selection depends on location.
  • Try thrift shops for retro clothes for the hip teens (and millennials) in your life. Or a funky old lamp, bookends, teacups, old shot glasses. It may take some time to hunt down that special gift, but that’s part of the fun.


Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen are health investigators based in New York City who have spent decades collecting "cures from the cupboard." They are authors of Bottom Line's Treasury of Home Remedies & Natural Cures and contributors to the free e-letter Bottom Line Life Insider.

  • Lorilu

    I made up a fantastic selection of treats, for a difficult-to-buy for relative. I was able to include many things I knew he enjoyed, plus some surprises, in a fancy gift bag, and using standard-size packages rather than the tiny ones in pre-made gift baskets. Yet it cost about half of what a pre-made gift basket would have. It got rave reviews.